Bio-Data Information

What you need to know about writing your bio-data

Professional Bio-Data Overview

Every once in a great while, a hiring company will suggest a one-page bio-data from someone as a method of testing qualifications, and this is particularly (in my experience, exclusively) true of technical writing positions.  To see what your skill level is in wording and presenting information a company will ask the potential technical writer to send a one-page bio-data as their writing sample.  (On a side-note, the first time I was asked for this, I dropped out of consideration because I had no idea what a "bio-data" was, or how to manage to squeeze 42 years of life onto a single page.  My résumé is three!)

However, as far as the US and most other western countries are concerned, a bio-data is an obsolete document, and has been replaced by the résumé.  However, if the bio-data is targeted so that the professional qualifications, skill set(s) and achievements are highlighted, and personal data is kept to a minimum, a bio-data may, in some instances, play the role of a résumé.

For the most part, if you are seeking a job with either a company based in the western hemisphere, it is more prudent to have a good, solid résumé at your disposal than a bio-data.

Therefore, think of your résumé, or Curriculum Vitae (CV), as a MARKETING DOCUMENT for your job skills and candidacy for a specific position.  As such, it should be handled in a clear, professional manner, with proper grammar, diction, spelling, punctuation and word use.  This is perhaps the most critical document you will ever write for your career.  Take it seriously.

Professional Bio-Data Usefulness

Why is a resume more effective than a bio-data (especially in the west, but more and more in the east recently as well)?

Because in Europe and North America, the emphasis is on DE-personalization of information.  Companies cannot use information about you -- personal history, family lineage, wealth, religious beliefs, nationality, caste, etc. -- to screen you from jobs.  If there is a position open, and you meet the qualifications of that job, there is nothing LEGALLY to stop you from being considered for that position with any company in the US.  So the personal information typically included in a personal bio-data will not only not HELP you get the position, it may HARM your chances of consideration for it.

Does a Bio-Data Help or Hurt in a Job Search?

How does a bio-data harm your chances of being hired?

Hiring managers and companies do NOT want the risk of appearing to have screened someone based on personal information.  This is largely illegal.  Therefore, providing a company with three or four pages of historical data regarding your lineage, your personal tastes, proving you're from a "good" family, etc., is of NO BENEFIT whatsoever.  The hiring manager or human resources department will probably destroy the document without ever looking at it.

Keeping personal data to things which can be considered neutral, unoffensive, unrelated to matrimony or matrimonial desires, and for the most part generic will add interest to your résumé without compromising your standing as a viable candidate for the position.

A professional bio-data, on the other hand, provides at-a-glance information regarding your background as it relates to a specific job opening; your contact information (obviously!); your interests (this is where some generic personal information can assist) as they concern the job, and your future with the company; your skill sets aside from those required to fulfill the duties of the sought position with the company; and your academic qualifications (if relevant and required).

What to Include on a Professional Bio-Data?

The primary components of a bio-data are likely universal.  They include the following items:

  • Your life history
  • Your job history
  • Your achievements
  • Your skills

However, BEWARE for those of you reading this who are IN THE UNITED STATES.  The term "Curriculum Vitae" does NOT operate interchangeably with "résumé".  It is, here in the U.S., a specialized format of a résumé, specifically for use in scientific or academic fields (teachers and scientists).  Outside the US, however, the two terms are more synonymous.

It's probably best to consider using either a CV or a résumé rather than a full-blow bio-data for job searching.  In addition to many samples from the Internet to help get you going, there are services from such places as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com that will write your CV/résumé for you.

If you're interested in building your own, you can probably find everything you need at this site, which is dedicated to CV writing.

Here's a no-nonsense guide to a CV, including definitions and pointers.  And for a much more detailed guide, and a nice, clean PDF sample (NOT to be used as a template, however, as the site expresses), try this page, from the University of Texas at Austin.  It gives a columned list of what to include in a CV and what the differences are between a CV and a résumé.

There are, literally, thousands of examples of bio-data documents available on the Internet.  Some of them are not as professional as others.  One of the best ones I've seen is this one, and I'm tempted to use it myself.

But, if you are more in need of guidance in building a bio-data document, this article should shed much light on what and why of the document itself.

Do a search for "bio-data samples", or "biodata samples" in Google to find so many templates you'll have a hard time deciding which one to use.

In the end, be careful what you do and do not include on your bio-data.  You will be surprised how much weight the résumé, CV or bio-data can carry, and it can either open doors for you, or shut them forever.

Good luck, and I hope this article has helped you some.

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